Last year was my first Father’s Day. It was special. I recall receiving a complimentary beer at brunch, and feeling that “I earned this one.”
Almost 365 days later, I approach this day with two overwhelming emotions: pride and despair. Two emotions that do not often accompany one another. Yet this time they go hand-in-hand.
I joke with friends that my main goal as a dad is to keep my daughter alive. While it is said in jest, there is truth in this statement. If I recall all the close calls this year- from her choking on a small piece of watermelon, to her new climbing adventures, to her little hand reaching for objects that were previously out of reach, to the countless strangers who stayed in their lane, I am quickly reminded why there are many more gray hairs and learned lessons.
I am proud of my daughter, Shea, and my role, along with my wife (and larger supportive village of family and friends). Shea is a remarkable toddler who teaches me more about God’s love than any theology book. My vocation to be her dad is, along with being a partner to my wife, what I was made for by God. This I truly believe in my core.
As I reflect with humbled pride on this year, and all the laughs and smiles, new words and first steps, I recognize that despair is around the corner. This emotion is slowly weighing me down, not in a depressive way, but rather in that Christian lyric “who will hear the cries of the poor?”
While I drink a cold one and eat barbecued meat tomorrow, somewhere not to far away in my country there are thousands father’s separated from their loved ones. Parents and children pulled a part and sent to detention centers. Hearing stories of how a baby was removed from her mother while breastfeeding should hit us at our core. You can read this story here.
I do not ignore the fear that so many feel regarding refugees, but I will not ignore the fact that refugees are leaving their home because they have no other choice. They are doing the same thing I would do if I was in their shoes. They want what I want. They hope for a better day where survival is not the only goal every time they open their eyes.
I am also reminded of the pain that accompanies tomorrow. Those who mourn their fathers who have passed, or those who grieve the father they have that shares more hurt than love. Tomorrow can be bitter-sweet, as there is plenty of despair that can accompany a humble pride.
I am reminded of this quote from the prophet Rumi: “There is hope after despair, and many suns after darkness.”
For those of us blessed enough to be with our children and/or our fathers, enjoy the sun. But do not forget your responsibility as you change the channel, or scroll past the post, of the news of those who are literally being pulled away from their loved ones, those who hurt, and those who grieve.
Feel with me the responsibility to do something as an act of fatherly love. Read this to see what you can do for the voiceless, and be hope in the midst of despair. Give compassion to others and be patient with yourself.
Love one another as you would love your own child, and maybe next year, the despair will be less and the humble pride will be even greater as you and I can bask in the sun after the darkness that now accompanies us.